In general, our cosmology has been flexible and established in play, but we have, through play (and often, through the mechanical abstraction of the universe represented by gifts), established a number of core truths.
In order to help players to make reasonable cosmology requests, we are providing certain fundamental pieces of information on an OOC basis only. Unless your character is explicitly aware of these things through specific gift and lore text, seen it in gossip, or was directly told in roleplay, this is player knowledge and not character knowledge.
The information provided here is non-comprehensive, is sometimes a simplification of the actual deeper truth, and is sometimes an outright lie but one that should be used as a basic assumption when making a request of the GMs. However, it is intended to draw a clear enough picture that you understand some things you might want to explore in play. It is critical that you respect this distinction between the OOC information and the IC information; do not assume that your character can "deduce" anything here or would simply know about it. Also, there is a significant amount of IC deception in play, and because not everything here is actually the truth, you use it IC at your peril.
- The beginning of the universe is not the same as the founding of Amber.
- The founders of Amber had considerably more power than is available / known to their descendants.
- Everything which was recorded prior to Faiella's reign, is suspect, and there are no PCs with useful memories that pre-date this point. This is essentially the glowing border between truths established by the propcos, and truths established in the backhistory cosmology.
- With the destruction of Rebma's Pattern, the past might not be entirely stable. It is possible for things to show up from alternative past timestreams.
- There used to be more powerful gods in the universe, but they were largely destroyed or bound relatively early in Oberon's reign. It is possible for such gods to get free. (PCs with the divinity tree are lesser gods, not of this scope.)
- A variety of bindings and other similar magics were set down early in the founding years. The Pattern is by far the most significant of them and overwhelmingly the broadest in scope, but there are many smaller, specific things as well. It is possible that some of these have become broken or weakened.
- Oberon established Duties during his rule, governing certain things that need to be done in Amber. These things are connected to the broader cosmos in some way.
- Dworkin had abilities that far surpassed anyone else's; he was the ultimate master maker. He passed along some but not all of his secrets to his students.
- There are at least three greater powers in the universe: Chaos, Order, and the Pattern. Magic is a lesser power. Divinity is simply an aspect of magic.
- Chaos and Order are directly opposed metaphysical forces.
- The Pattern is not directly opposed to either Chaos or Order.
- Magic can be combined with greater powers, but generally cannot affect the greater powers.
- Use of a power does not imply a particular allegiance. Those that use Chaos or Order are no less fractious than the princes of Amber.
- The Black Road uses the power of Chaos. So does Banyan.
- Enemies using the power of Order can also be encountered.
- Transportation powers are all connected in some way, and follow a set of rules that govern their use.
- Communication powers are all connected in some way, and follow a set of rules that govern their use.
- Certain types of magic, such as illusion magic, are difficult to impossible to perform.
- The behavior of mirror magic has altered, in unpredictable ways, since the destruction of Rebma's Pattern.
The Black Road
- There are two known major enemies: the Unsleeping King (served by Cael), and the Master of the Tower at the end of the Black Road (once served by Dara, now served by Jasra). Other agents of the Road have also made appearances from time to time.
- The Black Road runs from the Master's Tower, through shadow, to the foot of Kolvir. While the physical Road still exists, its power is vastly diminished.
- The Unsleeping King's tower is located deep in shadow, far down the Black Road; the Road runs through it, and it is reached by following the Road as directly as possible.
- Reflections of the Black Road exist through shadow. These are more fragmented and much less potent than they used to be.
- The establishment of Banyan weakened the Black Road, and its continued existence and growth seems to further weaken the Road.
- Banyan is subject to frequent attacks from creatures associated with the Black Road.
- Amber and the Golden Circle are no longer subject to active attacks from the Road's forces, directly. However, the Road has left a permanent mark on some locations, as local inhabitants may have embraced the power of Chaos.
- The Black Road has similarly left its mark across other shadows, even from places where it has since retreated. Also, because the Road drew and sometimes corrupted troops from across shadow, there may be impacts of these troops returning home, marauding elsewhere, etc., even though they are no longer directly affiliated with the Road.
- Chaos, as it revealed at the very end of the fifth Corwin novel (The Courts of Chaos) and the Merlin chronicles, does not exist.
- As you go farther and farther out from Amber, you will eventually reach a place that you cannot shift shadow any further. See the setting notes on shadow-walking for details.
- Banyan lies beyond the point where anyone, including Pattern-walkers, can shift.
- The end of the Black Road (and thus, the Master's Tower), also lies beyond the point where anyone, including Pattern-walkers, can go. You can't actually follow the Black Road to its end; you can only follow it as far as your will allows you to keep the substance of shadow stable around you.
- The ancient races have mostly, but not necessarily entirely vanished. Their traces can still be found in the universe, sometimes in significant ways, and some members of the ancient races occasionally make appearances.
- The Crafters were synthesists, picking and choosing from the wonders of the universe and recombining them; alchemy is a pale echo of what they could do. They built Silverspire in Weirmonken. They vanished during Cymnea's reign, in some kind of temporal disruption.
- The Portafada are masters of wild gates, allowing them to move rapidly from place to place, but their use of such magics can sometimes lead to the destruction of entire shadows. They are ancient enemies of Amber, and of House Karm in particular. They still sometimes show up in individuals and small groups, usually investigating gates and shadow disturbances.
- Little is known now about the Rakasha.
- The Vanir were ancient inhabitants of Kitezh, treasure-raiders who plundered what is now the Golden Circle. They worked with runes; their symbol is the Valknut. They have periodically been enemies of House Chantris.